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Retailers failing to drive devotion amongst UAE shoppers

April 2017

April 11, 2017 | 10:30 | Dubai

Global loyalty marketing agency, ICLP revealed research which states that whilst Club Apparel, which comprises of over 70 international brands, is considered to be performing the most strongly in the eyes of UAE shoppers when it comes to rewarding customer loyalty, retailers in general are failing to drive devotion amongst consumers. Just 29% of UAE consumers feel that their custom and loyalty is being rewarded by their favoured retailer, while 36% said that they felt appreciated if they were a regular customer.

ICLP surveyed UAE consumers to understand how far their expectations were being met by a named retail brand that they shop with frequently and are loyal to, and revealed that brands still have a significant journey to make in order to build a strong relationship with their customers. Working with Professor Rogge of the University of Rochester, ICLP applied Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love to the relationship between shoppers and brands, and defined the ideal, or ‘devoted’ relationship, as one where shoppers feel passion, intimacy, and commitment to the brand.

The most dominant form of relationship that consumers had with brands in the UAE is casual (24%) followed by romantic (22%). Casual relationships demonstrate very low levels of passion, intimacy and commitment, whilst romantic relationships are characterised by high levels of passion and intimacy, but no commitment.

Of the shoppers buying from the brands under the Club Apparel programme, including Aeropostale and ALDO, 20% felt they were in a ‘devoted’ relationship with the brand. Only 4% of Carrefour shoppers and 5% of shoppers at brands that are part of the Shukran programme (including Splash, Max, and Baby Shop) fell into this category.

Overall, Club Apparel is viewed as performing the most strongly in the eyes of UAE shoppers. 50% of shoppers at Club Apparel brands agreed when asked if they felt that their custom and loyalty was being rewarded, compared to 30% at brands in the Shukran programme. Just 27% of Carrefour shoppers, with their My Club loyalty programme, felt that their custom and loyalty was adequately rewarded. When asked if they felt valued by their chosen retailer, 50% of shoppers at Club Apparel retailers agreed, compared to 41% for Shukran retailers, and 4% of regular shoppers at Carrefour.

As part of the research, ICLP asked shoppers questions in order to ascertain how they felt about the relationships they had with particular brands and their associated loyalty programmes. The results demonstrated that:

  • Retailers are falling short across the board: UAE shoppers do not feel particularly attached to retail brands they shop from most often. Just 24% said that they were rewarded with offers that were tailored to their likes and dislikes, and just 23% felt that they got something back in exchange for sharing their personal data with the brand
  • Programmes are not rewarding personal recommendations: Over half (53%) of UAE shoppers say that they recommend their chosen brand to their friends and family, but just 24% said that they were rewarded if they did so
  • Carrefour’s My Club programme is struggling to keep up with multi-brand programmes: Just a quarter (27%) of Carrefour shoppers said that they felt that their custom and loyalty was rewarded, and only 16% said that they believed they were recognised as long standing customers
  • Club Apparel is performing most strongly within the region: customer’s of the retailers that are part of Apparel Group’s Club Apparel say that they feel valued (50%), and that they are recognised as a long-standing customer (30%)

Sanjit Gill, General Manager at ICLP, commented: “Evidently, retailers across the UAE are failing to hit the mark when it comes to recognising and rewarding their customers’ loyalty. Club Apparel may be considered as performing the most strongly within the region, but the research indicates that the entire retail sector still has a long way to go, and no brand is yet able to build a lasting and devoted relationship with a majority of their customers.

“There is a huge opportunity on offer in UAE for the retailers that get this approach right, and show that they recognise their customers, and can reward them for their custom and loyalty. Shoppers these days are spoilt for choice, so investing in a loyalty programme that is going to enable retailers to drive devotion amongst their consumers should be a priority.”

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